Fan pressure makes things difficult - Diouf


“The pressure is maybe different in Africa because fans won’t settle for a draw over there. They want to go for a win every time you play and that is hard because they are pretty tough on you if they don’t deliver the goods and get a victory,” he says.

The Bolton forward said Nigeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Mali and Cameroon would also feel they had a good chance of lifting the trophy which kicks off on January 20 in Ghana.

“When you look around there isn’t a bad side in the tournament. That means anyone can win it and it makes it interesting. But I have a real desire to win. For me, the African Nations is as important as the World Cup.”

Senegal boast a squad that includes Portsmouth’s Pape Bouba Diop, Fulham’s Diomansy Kamara and Olympique Marseille forward Mamadou Niang.

They were finalists in 2002, when they lost to Cameroon on penalties.

“We have a very good team. A lot of the players play in England or France. We do not fear anyone. People will want to avoid us. There are one or two teams that you don’t want to play until the later stages of the tournament but there are not many teams that will want to play us,” he adds.

Diouf is eyeing a possible game against rivals Ivory Coast in the later stages of the competition.

“It is always a special encounter. It is a bit of a derby game and you can compare it to Arsenal v Manchester United. It will be hard if it happens but I’m up for it.”

The former Liverpool forward said many of his team mates and rivals would be looking to gain moves to the Premier League on the back of their performances over the next six weeks.

“It is a great opportunity. It is a shop window. They know if they put in a series of good performances in the tournament there will be clubs that want to snap them up.”